I am thrilled that you enjoyed my last blog of memories from building Annieglass. Thank you all for the encouraging words and good wishes. I have plenty of stories, nearly all of them unwritten, so I better get started!
This is a good one, I hope you enjoy it. I grew up watching Lucille Ball and Phyliss Diller on TV and I felt like I was channeling both at this store event back in 1996. Looking back, I know I am no different than many small business owners who go to all sorts of lengths to please customers and get publicity, but the first story may be exceptional.
A jewelry store owner in Princeton, New Jersey was doubling their storefront to include a larger gift department featuring more Annieglass and they asked me to attend the opening. They baited me with the news that Town and Country magazine would be covering the opening party, and could I please be there to get my picture taken…what ‘s a girl to say to that other than “When do you want me there?”
I coordinated with another West Coast glass maker to arrive at the opening together, but we had trouble finding the hotel to change for the party. We circled and circled the store several times but never found the hotel. It was getting dark, the party started and there was no way we were going to fly 3000 miles and miss it. Being a surf widow in another life, I decided the best thing to do was to change in a deserted parking lot. (For those readers not familiar with surf towns like Santa Cruz, surfers change in parking lots all the time).
It gets better….
I used the rear-view mirror to apply my make up as the sun was almost completely set and rushed to the store. The owner was very relieved to see us but did a double take and asked me if I felt ok. I reassured her I was and apologized for being late. She handed me the most beautiful and rare strand of large gold pearls and asked me to wear it for the party. (again …. What’s a girl to say to that?) They were so large it is hard to describe, they were 1-inch round, a luminescent gold in color about the size of a Great Dane’s eyeball. I could not wait to try them on, but I panicked when I saw the price tag, $125,000. I took myself off to the bathroom to calm down and was stunned to look in the mirror. No wonder I was greeted that way……when I was applying makeup in the near dark parking lot I had used my green eyeliner as a lip liner to outline my mouth and used the red lip liner around my eyes!
Barney's New York Grand Opening
When Barneys opened a store “uptown” on Madison Avenue it was quite a big deal in 1993 at 233,000 square feet of luxury retail space designed by Peter Marino.
They had been known for a generation as the place boys and men bought their first suit, often at a discount. The family that owned it, Barney’s grandchildren, had bigger plans. Barney’s daughter-in-law, Phyliss Pressman started her own home furnishings store within the store and was one of my first buyers. She asked me to clean up the rim on my Roman Antique plates and could I make more than two sizes? We have had as many as 60 sizes since then.
One of the original Roman Antique photos. Shop >>
Andre Putman, an influential French architect was hired to redecorate their downtown store. After they joined forces with a Japanese conglomerate, Iseton, they opened several more. I was surprised and delighted to be one of three artisans invited to the grand opening of the new Madison Avenue store. Everyone else was from the fashion world or some sort of Manhattan celebrity. I was intimidated but excited to be there.
I have had many close calls building my business, but I never saw anything like this the day of the opening, even the night of the opening electricians were drilling into walls, flowers coming and going, display fixtures were still being moved in to place. I felt right at home!
Just like in the movies, a wall of photographers greeted guests as the stepped onto the curb. We followed behind Mary McFadden, a fashion designer. A blinding sea of flashbulbs went off in our faces as she walked in front of them but when we stepped out they all put there heads down to check their cameras and equipment. No one took our picture. That just pissed me off, so I rose to my full height, 5’9” (six feet tall in my high heels, evening dress and coiffed hairdo) and sailed out there like I was a supermodel. We danced the night away to the music of Barry White and took over the dance floor with our new artisan friends who felt the same way. We had way more fun than anyone else there.